‘Beauty and the Beast’ Review: ‘The Most Dangerous Beast’ Is Exciting and Emotional
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 3 Episode 5 – The Most Dangerous Beast:
“The Most Dangerous Beast” is an interesting detour for Beauty and the Beast. It separates Vincent (Jay Ryan) and Catherine (Kristin Kreuk) in service of telling a shorter-form version of Richard Connell’s short story, “The Most Dangerous Game”. And the results are not only exciting, they’re more emotional than the premise of this episode would lead you to believe.
In short, Cat is paranoid that she’s being stalked by Carol (Natasha Henstridge), but Vincent isn’t so certain. And even if they are being tracked, Bob and Carol don’t stand a chance against them when they’re together, right? Well, it turns out Cat was right: Bob (Alan Van Sprang) and Carol ARE tracking them, with the aim of separating Vincent and Cat. Their goal is to kill Cat, and then force Vincent to beast out in order to assess whether or not he’s the right kind of beast to turn over to their boss. They’re hoping their boss will reward them with an antidote that will free them of the burdensome powers the serum has placed on them. Naturally, that in itself is a revelation, since there wasn’t much indication before this that Bob and Carol felt any sort of vexation about their time-slowing powers. But, thinking about it, I would imagine it’d be pretty freaky to see the world in slow motion, and to have the ability to control every beat of your heart. That kind of power would likely be hard to contain, and it could easily spell death if things get out of hand and you lose control. So I could sort of see where Bob and Carol are coming from, largely because it’s the same dilemma facing J.T. (Austin Basis), who fears his powers will continue to accelerate until he ends up losing himself like the other serum subjects. This central dilemma provides us with a storyline that, thanks to the tightly-plotted script, is all-inclusive. Not only does everyone have a part to play, everyone has a good part to play, as this is once again an episode where the cast shines.
Naturally, my favorite parts of the episode centered on the cat-and-mouse game between Bob/Vincent and Carol/Cat. Bob lures Vincent out to the woods and puts him through a series of tests to see if he’s the beast they need, and those tests not only include pushing the limits of his beastly form, but also morality checks, as Bob sets a trap designed to see if Vincent will risk his own life for an innocent person. There’s a tension to this hunt through the woods near Lake Placid, with Vincent getting closer to Bob, while Bob moves the goal post by keeping Vincent away with teasing gunfire. He’s not actually trying to hint Vincent so much as pester him into changing, while Vincent is looking for ways to stop Bob without resorting to beasting out, since Cat isn’t around to pull him back. That’s a legitimately clever way to build dramatic tension, since we’re worrying less about Vincent’s physical safety, and more about the well-being of his humanity. And that’s a character journey Jay Ryan plays exceedingly well, as he struggles to keep himself in check. Granted, he does end up changing once Bob implies that Carol has killed Cat, but he’s brought down by tranquilizer darts, which brings us to the next phase of Vincent’s half: J.T. coming to his rescue.
One of the show’s best running subplots is the subtle development of J.T.’s powers, as he gains abilities that vary in intensity with each passing week. This week, in addition to his healing factor, J.T.’s vision improves to the point where not only does he no longer need glasses, he can also see perfectly in the dark! And it’s this ability that allows him to read Bob’s map and catch up with the assassin, setting his own rescue plan into motion in the process. Basis plays J.T. as a man of grim necessity, recognizing that drastic measures must be taken to save his best friend. So J.T. leaves a farewell voicemail to Tess (Nina Lisandrello) in which he finally says “I love you,” in a moment that caught me off-guard with its potency. In fact, the only two moments that were more emotionally affecting were the reactions to J.T.’s apparent death: Tess absolutely FLIPS OUT on Carol, in one of Lisandrello’s best moments, as it illustrates the depth of her feelings for J.T. more than her anxious worrying ever could. But even better is Vincent’s reaction when J.T. pops up to save him from Bob. It’s as if he’s never been more fearful of anything in his life than he is now, at the possibility of his best friend being killed. When Bob’s truck strikes J.T., and Vincent feels the bump of his best friend’s body being knocked backward into the woods, he lets out a painful, primal shout that ranks among Ryan’s finest reactions. It also results in a poignant montage that reminds us just how far Vincent and Cat have come, as Vincent needs to remember Cat’s love in order to pull himself back from the brink.
However, Vincent successfully pulling himself out of his beast form without Cat has one major downside: he’s already gone too far by the time he’s able to restrain himself. Assuming J.T. has been killed, Vincent snaps free from his chains and beasts out on Bob, snapping his neck and killing him altogether. And although J.T.’s healing factor is already kicking in, it’s too late to take back Bob’s murder. Of course, it’s about more than J.T. though. Remember, Vincent is operating under the assumption that Carol may have killed Cat. In essence, Vincent is someone with nothing left to lose. And a beast with nothing left to lose is a HORRIFYING prospect, especially when it results in Vincent killing someone as quickly and as easily as he killed Bob. This introduces an aspect of morality into the overall dilemma. Early in the episode, Vincent passes Bob’s “morality check”. But by the end of the episode? He’s essentially thrown morality out the window, and it shows in the difference in approach between his side of the story and Cat’s.
When Cat’s new partner, a young rookie detective named Wesley “Itch With an ‘A'” Atchison, is shot by Carol, Cat is quick to get him into her car and send him away to safety, not unlike Vincent tries to do with the woodsman Bob used as bait. But Vincent fails to save the woodsman (althrough no fault of his own, to be fair, as Bob shoots the man before Vincent can do anything about it), whereas Cat successfully gets Wesley out of the dangerous situation. Then, in the climax, Cat takes J.T.’s advice and impairs Carol’s vision by shooting out the lights in the abandoned building in which they’re fighting, thus negating Carol’s time-slowing powers. So it illustrates the dichotomy between the two approaches: Cat uses ingenuity to defeat her enemey, whereas Vincent uses brute force; Cat brings Carol in, capturing her by the book, whereas Vincent snaps and takes justice into his own hands, killing Bob deader than the XFL. More so than last week’s similarly bisected story — in which Cat and Vincent both have their own individual problems to solve that fit into a larger context of saving the day — this episode truly illustrates why Vincent and Cat are better together, as their individual strengths fill in for the weaknesses of the other. Vincent is stronger, and Cat is more pragmatic. But Vincent is a loose cannon, and Cat doesn’t always have the most subtle approach. They can be effective on their own, but they need each other to be at their best.
And, honestly, that’s an interesting character approach to take, particularly since it builds on the weekly trend of having each Case of the Week comment in some way on Vincent and Cat’s relationship. Once again, Bob and Carol are a grim mirror of Vincent and Catherine, as Carol is shown to truly love Bob. When she learns of his death simply through Tess and Cat’s facial expressions, she stops her own heart, choosing to die rather than live without her husband. The act leaves Cat haunted, to such an extent that she outright asks Vincent if he’d ever stop his heart for her. In characteristically smooth fashion, Vincent responds that Cat stops his heart every time he sees her, and while that’s certainly a swoon-worthy line, it proposes a relevant question about VinCat. They love each other, but are they codependent? And if so, to what extent is that codependency harmful? I’m definitely interested to see how this relationship shapes up in the coming weeks, more so than I am about the overarching mystery of who’s experimenting on all the innocents. The show certainly knows how to build a good mystery, but it’s the character moments I care about most. On the one hand, I hope J.T. shocking the serum out of his system by getting hit by Bob’s truck doesn’t mean this is it for J.T. as a man of action. On the other hand, even if it is, there’s still a lot for him to do, both as a supporting character in the weekly action, and as one half of a relationship that adds to the ensemble quality of the series. Tess casually returning the “I love you” while J.T. grins like a dope is such an understated, beautiful moment, as much as any haughty declaration of love on the VinCat side. I know there are a lot of people who aren’t feeling the J.T. & T relationship, but I like Basis and Lisandrello’s casual chemistry. With all that said, however, the show does need to offer more incremental progress in the central mystery of the season, since we don’t know anything more about who’s responsible for the serum experiments than we were last week or the week before that. But we’re still below the halfway point, so I’m not too concerned about it right now. If we’re at the same point in two weeks, then I’ll start to worry. But for now, I’m just enjoying the ride.
“The Most Dangerous Beast” is a more exciting, emotionally rich episode than I was expecting going in, but when I think of how well-paced this season of Beauty and the Beast has been so far, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. This feels like a show that’s reaching the summit of its capabilities, delivering a fun hour of TV that also offers compelling, serialized genre storytelling. And that’s all I ask.
But what did you think of Beauty and the Beast, “The Most Dangerous Beast”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Beauty and the Beast, check out my review of last week’s episode, “Heart of the Matter”!
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